I am somewhat in recovery mode at the moment, not from alcohol this time, but something that has an influence in my blood stream. I just gave blood this morning and seems that my body wanted to give more than they asked for at the Red Cross. No sooner had I been wrapped up and enjoying a tasty snack then I realised my shirt was clinging to me and felt wet. Looking down I realised blood was coming out from under the bandage and spilling down the side of my body and dripping on the floor. With the matter swiftly resolved by the lovely nursing staff, I managed to ride home (was going to blame a car from clipping me if anyone pulled me up regarding the bloody stains) and start soaking my clothes, before deciding to take it easy this arvo...just in case. After lunch and a dvd, I think I may be capable of at least writing here, but apologies in advance if I make even less sense than normal through possible light-headedness.
As is tradition at chrissy time, my folks get me a six pack of Guinness and Tooheys Old as an advancement to the thanks they give me for helping out on the farm, etc while I am up there. Seeing these are the first beers I can actually remember enjoying, and are therefore attached to my old life in Newcastle, I guess it is a bit nostalgic that I have these beer available to me (mind you, I wouldn't complain if there was better beer...still, free beer is free beer), and they still go down the same, even if the diversity of beers my palate tries to comprehend grows with each year. Still, sitting in the pool with the sun going down after a day's work on the farm, sipping on an Old was quite enjoyable.
Chrissy day was spent enjoying the wine our family gifted my brother and Nicolette for their wedding, and have to say, the Goldkapp Joh. Jos. Prum 2007 Graacher Himmelreich Auslese went down amazing for a warm chrissy day. Such complexity with the sherbert sweetness, melon coolness, just a hint of acidity towards the back to balance it out, and a little residual sweetness at the back, it was a joy just to let it sit on the tongue to warm up and let the body of it build around your mouth is a lovely experience, and why this is probably one of the only wines you will ever hear me go on about through this blog. At least we had it before lunch while our palate was fresh, as even though dinner was great, it would only have diminished the flavours and textures of this wine. After that I was on an Old or two for the rest of the day.
Taking it easy on the beers between chrissy and new years, I managed to still have some of the Guinness and Old for the Birubi New Years party. That and also a bottle of Murray's Anniversary Ale from 2010 that I had bought the year before on a previous visit to the brewery, and had forgotten about til I found it sitting in a cupboard on the farm. On the way down to Boatie on Boxing Day, as the driver I had the most say when I pulled in quickly to the brewery to pick up a bottle of the 2011 Anniversary Ale, so a little vertical tasting could be done with these two. I am not sure if the 2010 had just melded out quite a bit over the year, but for a Barleywine is was pretty stock standard with the across the tongue ruby sweetness which cloyed a fair bit but still ended nice enough to want another sip. At 10% it could have been just a standard british version of the style, and as we found, had nothing on it's younger brother. While there was still the classic up front sweetness in the 2011 edition, the use of Belgian yeast has really spruced up the beer to give some added fruitiness to the beer, add some additional alcohol to it, which in turn took away a bit of the cloy-factor, and overall make it feel like more of a refreshing Barleywine (if that should be possible in this style). As always trying to bring something a bit different to a group that had beers including XXXX was good to show a better depth to beer than what they may be use to. With a German in the ranks this year, there was also the opportunity to try some Killepitsch, which for me had a herbal dark spirit taste, and drinking it cold separated the alcohol from the rest of the beverage in texture, while I found the alcohol did not burn as much as I would expect from a 40-odd% liquor. Actually the closest to a beer I can think of the convey it would be a American Style Russian Imperial Stout, but maybe with herbs instead of hops. The other oddity was seeing that Team Harrod had found some Mountain Goat Steam Ale, so was good to see it making the rounds in New South Wales.
Coming back to Melbourne after New Years and heading straight back to work the day after, then helping my brother move house the next day (ending on a Little Creatures Rogers which went down nicely, followed by a visit to the first day of trade for the year at the Mountain Goat after finding the Royston closed), on Friday the brewers (including the new assistant brewer [me!]) had a tasting of some of the previous batches of beer we had bottled to see how they had help up over time. Even if it is from my limited intellect, my thoughts are the intellectual property of Mountain Goat, and will remain so (seeing they don't matter seeing no one reading this will probably be able to taste them anyway...actually, I'll come back to that later...), and also had a try of the hefeweizen which I should be kegging off tomorrow in between Hightail, Double Hightail, IPA, and I think an Imperial Pilsner was in there too. The 'Hef', or 'Hoof' which I think is more appropriate for this beer from Mountain Goat (seriously, that is marketing gold right?) was tasting really good, with a good balance of wheat malt to the banana esters and just a slight touch of bubblegum, but with a good sessionable feel to it...I'll be definitely taking the Killepitsch German to get her thoughts on it (even though she has touted herself as more of an 'Alt' drinker).
Speaking of the German, we went along to a friends party on Saturday, and couldn't help myself but take my last bottle of our homebrew Hickory Stickory Bock to show her and the posse there another lesson in what beer can be. Having given the 'evil eye' to a Victorian Pale Lager drinking (that was for you Mr J. Davidson), and telling him at least I wouldn't be stealing one of his beers I loved seeing the surprise on peoples faces when they could taste smoked ham in a beer. In fact, the smokey flavour seems to have held up better in the bottle than the keg. Before that though I had to share a bottle of Lindemann's Faro with the German, the host of the party, and the person the party was centred around (that's a lesson to all those people that turn up late to parties). It still reminds me a bit like the Prum Riesling and a favourite summer beer for me (light but full bodied like a cloud, flavourfully balanced in sherbert sweet with slight lambic sourness when letting it sit on your tongue for 20 seconds). Surprise surprise, the German (ok, I should probably start calling her Kathrin seeing that is her name) liked the Faro, but was even more into to Hickory Stickery Bock. Then, she tells me she has never had a Rauch(Smoke)bier before...she comes from the country that made the style famous, and she had never even tried it (what is this, I'm teaching a German about their own beer???!!!). Mind you, I guess with the regional aspect to beer culture in Germany, and that she probably lives on the opposite side of the country to Bamberg, I'll let it slip...maybe.
Yesterday then I did a sneaky trip out to Stass's to put on a Little Creatures Bright Ale Clone so it is ready for Australia Day in a couple of weeks, and found the Mulberry brew I made for my brother's wedding is still holding up ok, even if it has lost a little body and the tartness is negating the sweet fruity flavours that go with it. He also had a bottle of Mountain Goat beer from his time on the bottling line, so we opened it, just to see him agree with me on certain aspects that the Mountain Goat brewers had disagreed with me on during the tasting on Friday.
So that is it. Hope that all made some sense, but if it didn't (well, if it made even less sense than usual), maybe call an ambulance for me as I am possibly losing consciousness as I write this.
Now to get Phoenix's song '1901' in my head, so I can be playing it in my head when I am kegging Mountain Goat's batch #1901 tomorrow ('lie down, you know it's easy, like we did it all summer long'...actually, maybe I need a lie down),
PS: saw this 'documentary' the other day and thought I would share it. Way over the top, which is the way of America and it's mainstream beer market (advertising beer, not the taste of it). Hope you can find the aspects worth thinking about through the haze of over-the-top-ness.